Ontario Construction news staff writer
Amid a wave of boomer retirements adding to an already acute shortage of labour in the building trades, attracting a new generation of skilled workers has never been more essential.
That’s where the Barrie Construction Association’s Young Leaders Group comes in. Formed in 2018-2019 and with about 35 members, the group is dedicated to reaching out and connecting with younger people to help groom future leaders for the industrial, commercial, and institutional construction sector.
Members can work in any role at an employer in the construction industry, with employers including owners, architects, engineers, contractors, subcontractors, manufacturers, and suppliers. Members have a range of roles in the companies including as owner/operator, manager, site staff, and sales personnel. Membership in the Barrie Construction association is not required to join the Young Leaders Group.
The goal of the group is two-fold. Firstly, its about connecting people who are or are going to be leaders in their companies to continue to foster the relationships in the construction industry around southern Ontario’s Simcoe County. And it promotes the construction industry to youth by speaking at various events and in classrooms, offering bursaries to deserving youth, and connecting youth with job opportunities in the construction industry.
The Young Leaders Group says it aims to provide the innovative and forward-thinking leadership needed to ensure continuous growth for the industry in Simcoe County represented by the 400-member BCA, part of the Council of Ontario Construction Associations.
“The group stemmed from the vision to maintain a strong personal bond among companies, ensuring seamless growth and development within the construction industry as the previous generation transitions and retires,” said Cassie Frengopoulos, who is co-chair of the group along with Taylorr Martin. “The goal is to empower the next generation of industry professionals with the same valuable connections for a thriving future.”
Frengopoulos, an intermediate project manager at Gerrits Engineering in Barrie, said the group meets monthly, either at the BCA offices for a presentation from a member on a topic of interest to the group or to plan activities or socials which include hanging out on a patio, wine and cheese gatherings with other BCA groups, golfing or more recently K1 racing.
In addition to organizing and encouraging social and networking events for young leaders, the Young Leaders Group hosts educational seminars and training and workshop sessions, some with guest speakers. It supports community and charity events, as well as sharing information, news and best practice updates.
And in March the group announced its first annual Bursary Award. The YLG along with the Barrie Construction Association and industry partners offers the bursary to anyone focusing on the trades through post-secondary education, apprenticeships, or other means. The bursary is open to those entering or continuing their education.
Applicants must be between the ages of 16 and 26 and residents of Simcoe County or provide proof of landed immigrant status.
“Thanks to our numerous members who sponsored, promoted, and reviewed applications for our annual bursary … we were able to award two $2,500 bursaries to very deserving applicants at the start of their construction industry career,” the group said in a Facebook posting this month. “Please join us in congratulating the recipients.”